At our last service, we followed the Orthodox calendar and read Shemini, instead of the double parshiyot of Tazria – M’tzora. As for last week, it was another double parshiyot, this time Acharei Mot – K’doshim, so we have a lot of catching up to do. There has been the leprous curse, liable to appear on the body, on fabric and even on the walls of our houses. This has been accompanied by the laws of purification and discharges that may make men or women unclean. Acharei Mot begins with Yom Kippur and follows with a much repeated prohibition of the eating of blood. Did they ever read this, the churchmen and Christian laity who accused Jews of slaughtering children for their blood to make matzah? We then have the sexual laws, and so move on to K’doshim and a multitude of moral and ethical laws linked to holiness. For Israel will be made holy by honouring God and by doing justice. Do not gossip, love your neighbour, let your trees become strong and remember that their fruit is a gift from God, so honour God before eating. Do not indulge in the practices of idolatrous religions, such as cutting yourselves for the dead, and, do not hurt the feelings of a proselyte who comes to live among you. Have any of you seen the pictures taken in the 1950s of the immigrant Caribbeans aboard ship as they sailed into dock: men, women and children, their faces filled with nervous hope and not a little bewilderment? How our laws continue to be relevant, not only for us but for all humanity.
Emor covers priestly laws, some festivals and sacrifice, among other things. Come along this Saturday at 10.30 to hear about them. Come along to a special service, led by Pat Lipert and our visitors and friends, David and Hannah Jacobs. After the service and kiddish, David and Hannah will also lead a discussion on anti-semitism, the hydra we have scotched more than once but never killed.